In the absence of being able to physically work on the housebus this week, I’ve been tinkering with my floor-plan again. My original floor-plans consisted of a living room area just inside the front entrance, with a work-studio in the back of the bus, both separated by a kitchen, hallway, and a bathroom. When I actually got my bus, however, it was a little shorter than expected, so I had the thought to combine the living room and work studio into the back of the bus, turning it into a small ‘studio apartment’ setup.

I was originally excited about the idea of ditching the ‘living room’ at the front of the housebus in favor of a larger ‘studio apartment’ setup in the back, but as I’ve also been looking at other folks’ conversions, I’m reconsidering again. I find I do still really like the idea of a separate living room (couch, tv, entertainment area), even though it would mean a smaller, more crowded studio space in the back of the bus.

2019 Housebus Floor Plan: Main entrance at the right, into the Living Room and Kitchen. Studio space at the rear of the bus, at the left.
2019 Floorplan. Main entrance at the right, into the Living Room and Kitchen. Studio space at the rear of the bus, at the left.

The idea of being able to have people over for games or a movie appeals to me, and with the furniture I’m planning to integrate into the layout, I’m really not sure which arrangement is more conducive to entertaining. 

Like, in a living room area, the futon would be set up lengthwise along the driver-side wall, which wouldn’t leave much room for extra seating except right on the floor, almost directly under the projector screen. BUT, if the futon were in the Studio area, it would go on the back wall (partially blocking the emergency door), so there’d be more seating directly in front of it, but there’d also be storage cabinets and my drawing table possibly blocking the view of the screen. Also, the studio area would be a traffic dead-end, and there’s a part of me that still wants to try to have a small porch off the back door if I can.

The 2021 Housebus floor plan, based on my actual bus's dimensions, has a larger living/work space at the rear of the bus, and a larger kitchen.
The 2021 floorplan, based on my actual bus’s dimensions, has a larger living/work space at the rear of the bus, and a larger kitchen.

I know I’m not anywhere close to needing to make this decision until I finally get the seats out and can really feel the space out better, but having some tangible plan to be working toward helps keep me inspired to keep working.

I’m also stuck with not knowing just how large the studio space will be, not being able to decide how I want to set up my drawing desk. I have two options available, and they’re both attractive options:

1: I have an Alvin Ensign drawing table which I’m currently using. It’s super-adjustable with a simple pneumatic-lever action that would allow me to collapse it entirely against the wall when not using, which opens up lots of floor space. This is an expensive drawing table that I got for next to nothing, and I’m hesitant to part with it.

and 2: I have an old oak roll-top desk that I was using as my primary digital workspace for freelance work but is now in storage. It has lots of built-in storage, and I can secure stuff into the roll-top area easily when it’s time to move the bus. Again, this desk was practically free, and while I don’t have it currently, I’ve been excited by the idea of again using it.

I really love the look & feel of the roll-top desk (not something you normally see in a bus), but it is a bulky piece of furniture that might feel overly large in such a small space. I also love the flexibility of my drawing table, but it has no built-in storage, and I wouldn’t even be able to keep anything on top of it when I’m not using it, since I’d want to be able to fold it up against the wall.

So, if I use the drawing table, I’ll need to add some built-in storage around the area to suit my needs when I’m drawing. Might not have to be much, though – space to store drawing tools, a place to set my coffee, a way to set my computer up nearby for doing art-streams on my twitch channel. A place to store my computer securely when I’m not using it.

I could also place the table in a way that it would serve as a computer desk, with space for my tablet or scanner, pretty much as I use it now most of the time.

So when it comes down to it, I might end up combining the two somehow.

Using the two separate lower drawers of the oak desk, mounting them into the bus permanently for storage in my work area; repurposing the pneumatic mechanisms from the drawing table and fabricating a new ideal-sized work surface, mounting it at a comfortable height for computer use. Then using my portable angled drawing surface when I need to, or building a tilting surface into the computer table.

I was hoping I’d be able to find a way to keep this build simple and inexpensive, primarily using furniture I already had with as few modifications as possible, but this particular aspect of the build will be especially important to Get Right.

I’ll have to play with designs for a bit, I think.

Again, luckily, I have time. The oak desk and the Ensign table have roughly the same footprint right now, so either one would work without modification. I just have to make sure I’m leaving enough space as I continue developing the floor-plan.